Saturday August 23, 2003
After Friday’s band-feast, I wasn’t too concerned about seeing anyone other than Billy Bragg. But, as he was headlining the Carling Stage, the drinking would need to be well-timed if I was to make it through. Plus the Agenda were on early and we fancied checking them out. Breakfast was a very average affair at Piper Island, which we walked off round the centre of Reading.

Luckily, we were able to miss the crush at the arena entrance as there was a band on before the Agenda and we headed straight for the bar.

Now, I don’t know what all the fuss is about Funeral For a Friend (because I’m old), but the little of them I heard coming out of the Concrete Jungle Stage while I was at the bar was enough for me to be sure they’ll never get any of my money. Funeral For a Friend, that is, the bar will always be getting my money. We hurried away to see the Carling Stage, where we chatted with The Darkness’ label boss and half of Sludgefeast (check ‘em out, by the way), while the Agenda flailed around for 30 minutes. They were OK in a kind of second division Hives sort of way.

We had a notion to see King Prawn on the Concrete Jungle stage, but the crowd extended 20 feet or more outside the tent so we gave it a miss and drank lager for several hours until Turbonegro. Unfortunately this means that we catch some of the Streets on the main stage. Now two blokes talking over some limp dance music ain’t my idea of entertainment, so we look inside the dance arena, but it’s full of people jigging about so we sit in the sunshine outside.

I don’t know what it is with kids these days, but why anyone would go and see stuff like Funeral For a Friend and The Movielife when you could go and see fat Norweigians in make-up and silly hats playing proper rock music is just beyond me. And there were an awful lot of people leaving before Turbonegro came on. It was their loss as the band were fantastic – rather like Zodiac Mindwarp for those that remember him. Plus there was a great call-and-response singalong to close with.

Now I love festivals, but there comes a point during the four days when you’ve had enough of eating crap food from a polystyrene trad on the filthy arena floor. And that point had arrived, so Dan and I headed off into Caversham in search of some decent food. On china plates. And we weren’t disappointed. Although the staff of the Chinese restaurant appeared to hurriedly close the door as we got nearer, they relented and let us in, despite us looking (and smelling) like particularly poorly-dressed tramps. They sat us in the corner, mind you, but made all the diners who cam afterwards sit right by us. Having feasted on superb Cantonese cuisine and drunk a very nice bottle of Chilean Merlot, we followed it with a good cognac. From properly-warmed glasses. I’d like to say we thought about everyone eating turdburgers and picking the dry grass out of their warm lager back in the arena, but we didn’t. Sorry.

Billy Bragg seemed like a surprising choice of headliner for the Carling Stage, but he’s always good value, and so it proved tonight.Mostly songs everyone knew, some with lyrics changed to bring them up to date. Great bloke and the crowd (which could have been bigger) lapped up every second. Billy left to applause that Blur could probably hear behind the main stage.

Back in the camp-site we were able to regale the others with lengthy descriptions of how nice it had been to be in the restaurant. And then to bed to get a good night’s kip, full of good food and good music, for Sunday means Metallica...
The summer's hottest tickets: Reading sold out faster than ever
Merch prices were stupid: check out the cost of the Linkin Park vest! Billy Bragg made a lot of middle-aged people really rather happy
Turbonegro rocked the Concrete Jungle Stage in a way no one else could match - alltogether now: "I got erection!"
Top bands of Reading 2003
• Young Heart Attack
• Winnebago Deal
• The Darkness
• The Datsuns
• McLusky
• Turbonegro
• Evan Dando
• Billy Bragg
• Metallica